She didn't cry when he died.
When Dad died, I held her as she sobbed. I know now they were not tears for a lost lover, but more likely for a past love, and for the death of her daughter's father.
So when his time came, I expected much more. I was prepared for a breakdown; I was there for her in case she needed someone; in case she needed me to hold her again. And I was ready to hold her for days - weeks, months - if necessary.
But there was nothing.
Throughout the planning of his funeral, she appeared so calm and unaffected actually smiling, and laughing, as we discussed what he would have wanted.
During the service itself not one tear fell from her eyes. In fact several times I caught her smiling. And once or twice I thought I heard her giggling. I managed to convince myself that I was imagining things the alternative being to conclude that she was. And I didn't want to go there.
It was almost a year later when I found out why those anticipated tears never fell.
I had not been shocked when her health took a turn for the worse merely months after he had passed away - I had always known she wouldn't live long without him.
But I was surprised, when on what turned out to be her last day she handed me a note. Frowning, both intrigued and concerned, I took it from her and glanced at it, noticing that it wasn't in her handwriting. I looked back to her, not needing to voice my question as it was clearly displayed in my confused expression.
"Gil gave it to me," she explained to me, her voice weak and tired. "I would like to ask the same of you now… And it'll reassure you that I've not been crazy this past year." Despite her growing weakness, her smile still lit up her face, and, as always, I found it to be infectious.
I took a moment just to watch her smile, to make sure it was imprinted on my memory, then I nodded and looked more closely at the piece of paper I held in my hand.
`My Dearest Catherine,' it read, and I glanced back up to her, feeling like I was about to intrude on something private.
She nodded her head forwards to assure me it was okay to continue, and I acquiesced and returned to the note.
`I write this in case my body fails me before my heart has chance to tell you. Please know that I love you with all my heart, and the fifty-three years that you have been in my life have been more wonderful than I ever could have imagined.
`I feel that the end is close, and have one request to make of you, for it breaks my ailing heart to think of your beautiful face stained with tears. I promised you I would never make you cry, and I don't intend to break that promise now.
So please, my love, do not cry because I am no longer with you; instead, recall the time we spent together and smile. And, please promise me that you'll laugh as often as you can, honey, please laugh. I love it when you laugh.'
Tears were already welling in my eyes, but I fought them back and, folding the note onto my lap, raised my eyes to meet hers. "Mom…" I said, my voice shaking.
"Please, Lindsey… Laughter can be just as cathartic… Believe me," she said, with a small chuckle.
Wiping at one tear that had managed to escape, I shared her laugh, knowing that she had noticed my concern for her sanity over the last year.
When our laughter had subsided I nodded, and with a smile, assured her that I would respect her wishes.
So, I didn't cry when she died.
Instead, I smiled at the memories of the time we spent together, and I laughed. And still do, at every given opportunity.
I think my daughter thinks I'm going crazy.
John, sleep well.